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Publisher's Summary

War-weary Berlin has much to offer Leonard Markham, a young, naive postal engineer: first the arts of sophisticated intrigue, then the delights of sexual pleasure. But Leonard's new knowledge carries a heavy price, dragging him and the listener into a new type of story that is exhaustively suspenseful and utterly irresistible.
©1990 Ian McEwan (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

"McEwan's name will be on everyone's lips with his startling new novel, an impeccably constructed psychological thriller set in Berlin during the Cold War....McEwan's neat, tensile prose raises this book to the highest level of the genre." (Publishers Weekly) "A tour de force of horror and philosophical suspense." (The New York Times) "So exhaustively suspenseful....It should be devoured at one sitting." (Newsweek) "McEwan...a breathtaking master...has written a blueprint for the future of the genre." (Time)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Kenneth on 05-10-05

A Lifelike Knot of Possibilities

At first I thought this was going to be "The Spy Who Fell Into the Cold War." The setting was right; the characters were available, but then, like life, it veered into an unexpected alley. So I thought it was going to be about romance and trust and danger. But the danger wasn't from the embattled governments or other outside influences in the divided city or the divided society; the danger was from inside the relationship, from inside the individuals. Then, like life, the story veered again, coping with danger, and danger was like a voracious beast intent on devouring the trust and the romance. Only the ending of the novel doesn't ring true for me, the looking back, the untying, the rekindling; these are the postscripts to a Hollywood movie, the way we'd like things to be, under control and logical, but not very lifelike.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Geoffrey on 08-19-04

A little gem

I read it entirely by accident and could not put it down . Well written, good character developement and portrayed spying from a down to earth perspective and honesty. There are no heroes, we see people with all their faults and idiosyncracies, stumbling through life. A work of fiction but set around an event that really occured.
I knew Berlin in the cold war era and the book and characters made me have a certain nostalgia for a time which is now gone forever( thank God ) and the players of the game, US, Brits and Germans and of course the Russian bear . I reccomend it.
Geoff Holdway MD Ancaster ON Canada

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13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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